Home SceneInterviews Intervju Russian Circles: Kreativnost je mišić. Morate ga vježbati.

Intervju Russian Circles: Kreativnost je mišić. Morate ga vježbati.

by Metal Jacket

Jedan od najpoznatijih post rock/metal sastava današnjice Russian Circles iza sebe imaju šest studijskih albuma, istoimeni Ep kao i suradnju sa mnogo umjetnika (These Arms Are Snakes, Phil Karnats, Chelsea Wolfe…). Albumi Geneva i Memorial se nalaze u kolekciji svakog ljubitelja post zvuka, a njihovo najnovije izdanje Guidance nimalo ne zaostaje u kvaliteti. Bend će uskoro imati nastup u Beogradu i Zagrebu, a večeras svira u Skopju povodom promocije najnovijeg ostvarenja čiji je producent niko drugi no Kurt Ballou. Basista benda Biran Cook (Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Mamiffer, Sumac…) je dao intervju za MJM.

MJM: Kako se proces pisanja i snimanja promijenio tokom godinama radeći kao Russian Circles?

Biran Cook: Za mene je teško da govorim o promjenama između trenutnog procesa i inicijalnog kreativnog procesa zato što nisam bio dio grupe do 2007. Ali kao većina bendova, Russian Circles su započeli kao tri prijatelja sa par aspiracija iznad toga da možda napišu par pjesama i da možda odsviraju par nastupa. Te prve godine benda i prvi album koji je proistekao iz njih su nam pomogli da vidimo koje su prednosti i mane benda. Svaki put kada stvoriš novi album naučiš više o svom kreativnom procesu i kako da ga unaprijediš. Tako da iako se suočavamo sa više prepreka sada kada živimo u različitim gradovima, potrošivši veći dio godine na putu, i generalni manjak vremena zajedno kako bi skladali muziku kao grupa, poboljšali smo se u učenju toga da kreativno funkcioniramo zajedno.

MJM: Mike je izjavio u prethodnim intervjuima da ste vi prilično pedantni kada se radi o snimanju i mijenjanju tonova, sekcija ili presnimavanju; da li biste nas mogli staviti u tip razmišljanja kada svi shvate da je album završen, i kako se suzdržavate od toga da radite previše i samim tim se udaljite od početne točke muzike?

Biran Cook: Definitivno postoji vrlo težak balans između rada baziranog na unutrašnjem instinktu protiv toga da pokušavate fino sve podesiti. Glazba bi trebala izraziti visceralnu reakciju, i najbolji barometar za to da li je vaša muzika efektivna je ako izražava takvu reakciju dok radite na njoj. Ali ako ste baš detaljni u vezi kompozicije i snimanja, lako je otupjeti na vlastiti rad. Čuti ćete pjesmu stotine puta i postati će teško procijeniti je da li je dobra ili ne. Namerno smo dali sebi manje vremena u studiju za Guidance da ne bismo previše razmišljali u procesu. I dok smo definitivno istraživali dosta varijacija za svaki rif i svaki ton, često se vraćamo inicijalnoj ideji.

MJM: Što radite kada naiđete na kreativne blokade, da li postoji nešto konkretno što činite u tim trenutcima?

Russian CirclesBiran Cook: Kreativnost je mišić. Morate ga vježbati. Vrlo smo svjesni da ne možeš trčati maraton bez treniranja za isti, tako da ne idemo u pisanje albuma bez prethodnog sakupljanja gomile ideja. Mike i ja pišemo dosta rifova koji nikada ne završe na albumu, i dok to može biti malo obeshrabrujuće kad vidiš kako je voljen rif ignoriran, također smo veoma svjesni da taj čin kreacije je sama vježba za još veće rifove u budućnosti. Ako imamo ozbiljnu kreativnu blokadu mi i dalje pokušavamo pisati ali ako to ne ide nikuda nemamo problem sa tim da završimo za to večer i nađemo se sljedećeg dana. Nema poante udarati glavom o zid. Na kraju krajeva jednostavno moraš raditi puno. I čak ako taj rad ne pokaže odmah nešto upotrebljivo, makar pokrećeš točkove u glavi i to je najvažnija stvar.

MJM: Kako se osjećate povodom značajnosti prostora i tona u vašoj muzici dok pišete i snimate?

Biran Cook: Mislim da je prostor nevjerojatno važan. Što sam stariji manje želim svirati. I pod tim ne mislim da ne želim svirati muziku već mislim da želim da sviram manje nota. Želim da se svaka nota računa. Želim da svaka nota ima težinu. Prostor daje muzici smisao dimenzije, a dimenzija je meni bitnija nego sirova snaga. Što se tona tiče, definitivno mislim da je bitan, ali često mislim da postoji previše isticanja na ton u domeni naše muzike. Možeš praviti dobru muziku sa bilo kakvom opremom, samo moraš razumjeti i cijeniti ono za što je ta oprema sposobna. Često muzičari misle da će im pravo pojačalo ili prava gitara donijeti sposobnost da pišu pamtljivu muziku, što očigledno nije slučaj.

MJM: U prilaženju ka novom materijalu da li imate naviku da detaljno radite dio po dio nekolicinu puta ili pratite više intuiciju ili ono što vam prija u trenutku?

Biran Cook: Oboje. Moraš pratiti intuiciju, ali ako svi sami sviraju svoje svo vrijeme ništa se ne postigne.

MJM: Da li biste mogli nešto nam reći o pisanju 309 i Empros-a generalno?

Biran Cook: Mislili smo da će Empros biti laganiji album. Ali onda je došla pjesma 309 i nekako je promijenila cijelu vibraciju Empros-a. U to vrijeme svi smo bili poprilično opsjednuti Craft-ovim Fuck The Universe albumom, i mislim da je nešto toga ušlo u tu pjesmu. Bas i bubanj dionice sa dronovima gitarske mikrofonije me pomalo podsjeća na jedan mali dio jednog starog danskog hardcore benda zvanog Lack. Oni su imali jednu pesmu na svom prvom albumu koja je imala sličan osjećaj, i mislim da je moja podsvijest to pozajmila odatle.

MJM: Da li biste nam mogli reći nešto o samom omotu novog albuma, osobi koja je to napravila i zašto ste konkretno izabrali to djelo?

Biran Cook: Slike su došle iz serija fotografija koje su date mom suprugu od strane starog ratnog veterana. Nije dato nikakvo objašnjenje uz fotografije, tako da su ostale pomalo misterija. Naše razumijevanje sada je da su nastale u doba kineskog građanskog rata između nacionalista i komunista, ali dijelovi njihove inicijalne primamljivosti je to da nismo znali ništa o tome što se događalo u samim slikama. Bile su jednostavno tako tragične i strašne, a opet su priče koje su obuhvaćale bile izgubljene u povijesti. Postoji nešto tužno o takvom divljaštvu koje je tako brzo zaboravljeno. Ljudska rasa ima kratko pamćenje.

MJM: Uz određene ekonomske poteškoće života u velikom gradu, ili čak i manjem u uspoređenju sa New Yorkom ili Chicagom, plus sa strane konstantno učešće u muzici i guranjem para u istu, kako se snalazite sa svim tim, da li je dvanaestogodišnja dugotrajnost ovog benda postala ekonomski isplativa?

Biran Cook: Uspjeli smo se snaći. U početku smo svi imali poslove koji su nam omogućili da idemo na turneje i imamo situacije gdje nam je trošak života bio vrlo nizak. Bend je ekonomski isplativ zato što smo držali svoje troškove nisko. I pomaže nam to što nas je samo troje. Još uvek radimo turneje u kombiju. Imamo povoljne cijene sa diskografskim kućama. U vrijeme kad smo pravili turneju za album Geneva shvatili smo da nam u stvari više ne trebaju poslovi. Ali imajte na umu da niko od nas ne posjeduje domove. Ja čak nemam ni auto. Niko od nas nema djece. Svi imamo jako jeftine rente uzimajući u obzir na to u kojim susjedstvima živimo. U mogućnosti smo živjeti od benda jer vodimo razumno oskudne živote. Ako vas interesira zarada novca, nemojte ići u muziku. Ali me uvijek zbunjuje  kad vidim bendove veće od nas koji se žale turnejama i kako dolaze kući bez prebijene pare.

MJM: Kada se radi o sviranju u nekoliko projekata, kako dajete svakom ono što mu je neophodno i što traži od vas?

Biran Cook: Teško je, i to je vjerovatno razlog zašto uglavnom ne žongliramo drugim projektima. Ja sviram u SUMAC-u koji inicijalno nije ni trebao biti velika obaveza, tako da kad je taj bend počeo dobijati pažnju i postati aktivniji ja sam se morao osigurti sa tim da Aaron (Turner) i Nick (Yacyshyn) budu ok sa tim da rade sa drugim basistima u slučaju da ja nisam dostupan. Svirali su Southwest Terror Fest sa Joe Preston-om na basu dok sam ja bio na ovoj turneji i pretpostavljam da to nije posljednji put da će Joe svirati sa bendom. Uživam u tome da ostajem kreativan i to u toj mjeri da mi nije teško raditi više projekata, ali vrijeme koje je potrebno za probe i nastupe mogu biti noćna mora za planiranje, tako da je to poprilično nezgodna situacija.

MJM: Radite turneju sa Alison Chesley (Helen Money) i imate prethodnih iskustava sa njom, pošto je svirala na Geneva-i. Što biste mogli reći o vezi između vas?

Biran Cook: Alison je pomogla u pisanju aranžmana za žičane instrumente i svirala je cello na Geneva-i, tako da je poznajemo od 2009. ali smo ukrstili puteve samo par puta. Mislim da smo vrlo slično umni muzičari. Oboje pokušavamo izvuči neku ljepotu iz ružnoće. Bilo je zadovoljstvo putovati sa njom i gledati je svaku večer.

MJM: Uz stil muzike koji svirajte gdje se osjećate najcjenjenije što se tiče Europe?

Biran Cook: Upravo smo svirali u Ateni u Grčkoj i to je bio najveći headliner nastup koji smo ikad svirali. Bilo je jako neočekivano. Poput većine američkih bendova, imamo tendenciju da prođemo dobro u zemljama Zapadne Europe poput Njemačke i Belgije, i povučemo slične grupe u Velikoj Britaniji. Ali mislim da su najenergičnija i najcjenjenija publika u gradovima koji su izvan utabanog puta. Volimo svirati u Španjolskoj i Portugalu. Svirali smo naš najduži set ikada u Srbiji prije par godina zato što je publika bila toliko entuzijastična. Imali smo sjajne svirke u Baltičkim državama na ovoj turneji. Zabavno je svirati na velikim tržištima pred velikim publikama, ali i svirati za ljude koji nemaju prilike čuti bendove tako često može biti još vrjednije.

MJM: Uz to što stvarate i svirate, vi ste i fanovi te glazbe. Koliko vam doprinosi slušanje glazbe da bi vas dovelo do određenog nivoa kvalitete u vašem radu?

Biran Cook: Mislim da je krucijalno nastaviti sa otkrivanjem nove muzike. Svi mi smo muzički snobovi koji se drže svog mišljenja, ali također mislim da smo jako radoznali i otvorenog uma. Ultimativno bih volio da cijenim što više muzike moguće. I mislim da se naša muzika unapređuje od tog slušanja sa strane i tih utjecaja.

MJM: Da li bi ste podijelili skorija otkrića koja su vas oduševila što se tiče muzike?

Biran Cook: Bio sam poprilično obuzet sastavom Popol Vuh u posljednje vrijeme. Oni su bend koji mi je bio na radaru godinama ali nikad nisam proveo dovoljno vremena istražujući ih zato što sam mislio da su bili više bazirani u synth teritoriji stvari, poput Tangerine Dream, ali mi je prijatelj preporučio da poslušam Heart of Glass Soundtrack  i sad sam potpuno opsjednut. Kao bend smo slušali dosta novog Rotting Christ albuma na ovoj turneji i zaljubljeni smo u isti. Rifovi su tako jednostavni i direktni, ali ne postoji rif na albumu koji nije potpuna “navlaka”. To je dobar podsjetnik da držimo stvari jednostavnima.

Razgovarao: Ivan Tasić

(english version)

MJM: How did the writing and recording process change over the course of years working as RC?

Biran Cook: It’s difficult for me to talk about changes between the current process and the initial creative process because I wasn’t a part of the group until 2007. But like most bands, Russian Circles started as three friends with few aspirations beyond writing a few songs and maybe playing some shows. And the first years of the band and the first album it yielded were really about fleshing out the band’s strengths and weaknesses. Every time you make a new album you learn more about your own creative process and how to push it further. So even though we face more obstacles now in terms of us living in different cities, spending more of the year on the road, and just generally having less time together to compose music as a group, we’ve gotten better at learning how to function together creatively.

MJM: Mike stated in some previous interviews that you guys are pretty meticulous when it comes to recording and changing tones, parts or overdubs; could you perhaps take us to the type of mindset when you all realise that the record is finished and how do you keep yourself from doing too much and getting away from the initial point of that music?

Russian Circles bendBiran Cook: There’s definitely a very tricky balance between operating on gut instinct versus trying to fine-tune everything. Music should elicit a visceral reaction, and the best barometer of whether or not your music is effective is if it elicits that reaction within you while you’re working on it. But if you’re really meticulous about composition and recording, it’s easy to get numb to your own work. You’ll hear a song hundreds of times and then it becomes difficult to assess whether or not it’s any good. We deliberately allotted ourselves less studio time for Guidance so that we wouldn’t overthink the process. And while we definitely explore a lot of variations for every riff and every tone, we often wind up reverting to the initial idea.

MJM: What do you do when it comes to crative blocks, is there something particular you do in those moments?

Biran Cook: Creativity is a muscle. You have to exercise it. We’re very aware that you can’t run a marathon without training for it, so we don’t go into writing an album without trying to cultivate a bunch of ideas beforehand. Mike and I write a lot of riffs that never wind up on an album, and while it can be a bit of a bummer to see a beloved riff get ignored, we also are very aware that that act of creation is exercise for even greater riffs in the future. If we’re having a serious creative block, we’ll still try to write, but if it goes nowhere, we have no problem calling it a night a reconvening the next day. There’s no point in beating your head against a wall. At the end of the day, you just have to work hard. And even if that work doesn’t immediately yield something usable, you’re at least getting the gears in your brain turning, and that’s the most important thing.

MJM: How do you feel about the importance of space and tone in your music when writting and recording?

Biran Cook: I think space if incredibly important. The older I get, the less I want to play. And by that I don’t mean I don’t want to play music—I mean that I want to play fewer notes. I want every note to count. I want every note to have weight. Space gives music a sense of dimension, and dimension is more important to me than brute force. As far as tone is concerned, I definitely think it’s important, but I often feel that there is too much emphasis on tone in our realm of music. You can make good music on any kind of gear, you just have to understand and appreciate what the gear is capable of. All too often musicians think having the right amp or the right guitar will enable them to write memorable music, and that’s obviously not the case.

MJM: In approaching new material do you tend to flesh out piece by piece for a number of times or do you follow a more intuitive or what feels good in the moment path?

Biran Cook: Both. You have to follow intuition, but if everyone is just jamming on their own all the time, nothing gets accomplished.

MJM: Could you tell us something about writing 309 and Empros in general?

Biran Cook: We thought Empros was going to be a more mellow album. But then 309 came along and it seemed to change the overall vibe of Empros. We were all pretty obsessed with Craft’s Fuck The Universe album at the time and I think some of that spilled onto the song. The drum and bass part with the droning guitar feedback reminds me a little bit of this old Danish hardcore band called Lack. They had one song on their first album that had a similar feel, and I think my subconscious borrowed from that.

MJM: Could you tell us something about the artwork of the new album, person who made it and why did you chose that preticular piece?

Biran Cook: The images came from a series of photographs that were given to my husband from an old war veteran. There wasn’t any explanation given with the photos, so they were a bit of a mystery. Our understanding now is that they come from the Chinese civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists, but part of their initial lure was that we didn’t know anything about what was happening in the images. They were just so tragic and awful, and yet the stories they captured were lost to history. There’s something just so sad about such savagery being so quickly forgotten. Humankind has a short memory.

MJM: Given the economic dificulties of living in a big city or even a smaller one in comparison to New York or Chicago, plus on the side constantly beeing involved in music and putting money into it, how do you guys manage all of that, has the 12 year longevity of this band so far become economicallyfeesable?

Biran Cook: We’ve managed to get by. In the beginning, we all had jobs that enabled us to tour or had situations where our cost-of-living was very low. The band is economically feasible because we keep our costs low. And it helps that there are only three of us. We still tour in a van. We have favorable royalties rates with our record labels. Around the time we were touring on Geneva we all realized we didn’t really need jobs anymore. But bare in mind that none of us own homes. I don’t even have a car. None of us have kids. We all have remarkably cheap rents considering the neighborhoods we live in. We’re able to live off the band because we lead reasonably austere lives. If you’re interested in making a lot of money, don’t go into music. But when I see bands bigger than us complain about going on tour and coming home broke I’m always puzzled.

MJM: When it comes to playing in multiple projects how do you give each what it requires and asks of you?

Biran Cook: It’s difficult, and that’s probably why we don’t typically juggle other projects. I play in SUMAC, which wasn’t initially intended to be such a large commitment, so when that band started to garner attention and get more active I had to make sure Aaron and Nick were okay with working with other bassists if I wasn’t available. They played Southwest Terror Fest with Joe Preston filling in on bass while I’ve been on this tour, and I imagine it’s not the last time Joe plays with the band. I enjoy staying creative, and so in that capacity I don’t find it difficult to do multiple projects, but the time that it takes to rehearse and do shows can be a scheduling nightmare, so that’s the real drawback.

MJM: You are touring here with Alison Chesley (Helen Money) and you have previous experiences with her as she has played on Geneva. What could you say about the relationship between you guys?

Biran Cook: Alison helped write the string arrangements and played cello on Geneva, so we’ve known her since 2009 but we’ve only crossed paths a few times. But I think we’re very likeminded musicians. We both try to render some beauty out of ugliness. It’s been a pleasure travelling with her and watching her perform every night.

MJM: With the style of music you are playng where do you feel most of the appreciation as far as Europe goes?

Biran Cook: We just played Athens, Greece and it was the largest headlining show we’ve ever played. It was very unexpected. Like most American bands, we tend to do well in Western European countries like Germany and Belgium, and we pull similar crowds in the UK. But I think the most energetic and appreciative crowds tend to be in cities off the beaten path. We love playing Spain and Portugal. We played our longest set ever in Serbia a few years back because the crowd was so enthusiastic. We had great shows in the Baltic states on this tour. It’s fun to play the big markets to big crowds, but it can feel more rewarding to play shows for people that don’t get to see bands very often.

MJM: Besides being musicians all of you guys are really fans of music,how do you feel about the relationship of listening to a lot of different music in order to achive a level of quality in your own work?

Biran Cook: I think it’s crucial to keep discovering new music. We are all opinionated music snobs, but I think we’re also all very curious and open-minded. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to appreciate as much music as possible. And I think our music improves by culling from a broader swath of influences.

MJM: Could you share some of your recent descoveries that blew your mind as far as music goes?

Biran Cook: I’ve been on a big PopolVuh kick recently. They were a band that’s been on my radar for years but that I never spent much time investigating because I thought it was in the more synth-based territory of stuff like Tangerine Dream. But then a friend encouraged me to check out the Heart of Glass soundtrack and now I’m totally obsessed. As a band, we’ve listened to a lot of the new Rotting Christ album on this tour. Again, they were a band on my radar for years, but I’ve only really delved into them on this new album and we’re all in love with it. The riffs are so simple and straightforward, but there isn’t a riff on that album that isn’t a total hook. It’s a good reminder to keep shit simple.

Writen by Ivan Tasić

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